Chargers visit to Vikings reminds Peterson of rushing record
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Halfway into his rookie season, Adrian Peterson had passed the 200-yard mark for a second time. Midway through the fourth quarter, the Minnesota Vikings held a four-point lead over the San Diego Chargers.
This was an entertaining afternoon for a couple of teams from opposite conferences toting mediocre records. As a bonus, San Diego's Antonio Cromartie returned a failed field goal 109 yards for a touchdown right before halftime.
Oh, but the excitement had only begun.
Minnesota regained possession after a 42-yard punt return. Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell ordered, of course, a run for Peterson.
''G-Boss,'' Peterson said this week, recalling the name from the playbook. ''To the right.''
Peterson took the handoff from Brooks Bollinger, moved patiently enough to let his blockers seal the edge and then raced around the corner for a 46-yard touchdown. A handful of runs later, Peterson had the NFL single-game rushing record with 296 yards.
San Diego will play at Minnesota Sunday for the first time since that game Nov. 4, 2007. Current Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner was head coach of the Chargers then.
''I remember running by him a couple times on the sideline,'' Peterson said.
Including that 46-yarder that helped put him in position for the record.
Bevell's call actually didn't go over well with some of the other assistants, despite the way Peterson was running and how staunchly and confidently the linemen and tight ends were blocking.
''When I called it, they were like `Oh no,''' said Bevell, now the offensive coordinator for Seattle.
Running backs coach Eric Bieniemy, who harped on Peterson often, was chiding him for cutting inside on that outside zone play and settling for four or five yards.
''EB got on me, got me straight, and we kept gutting them,'' Peterson said.
Turner quickly recalled another one of the three touchdowns Peterson had that day, a 64-yard scamper off left tackle on third-and-2 that tied the game early in the third quarter.
''It all broke loose then,'' Turner said. ''We couldn't get him on the ground, and he looked like a guy that was possessed.''
Turner took those Chargers to the AFC championship game after a six-game winning streak to finish the regular season at 11-5. The defense was actually fifth in the league that year with 17.8 points allowed per game. Excluding the nightmare in Minnesota, San Diego gave up an average of 88.9 yards rushing over the other 15 games. That mark would've ranked third in the NFL.
The Chargers have one defensive player left from that season, safety Eric Weddle. He was a rookie then.
''I didn't play much that game. If I was on the field it might have been a little different,'' Weddle said, jokingly.
He had a good view of history being made, at least.
''I remember that bobbing head up the sideline,'' Weddle said.
One of the most remarkable aspects of Peterson's performance was how many more yards were there for the taking.
Peterson had a modest total of 43 yards in the first half. He had a 17-yard run in the second quarter erased by a holding penalty. He was tackled three times for a 2-yard loss in and twice for no gain. So over the 26 carries he took past the line of scrimmage, he netted 321 yards, an average of more than 12 yards per try.
Chester Taylor chalked up 60 yards on nine attempts himself, including four straight rushes for 41 yards that took the Vikings into the end zone with 4:33 left in the game to stretch their lead to 18 points.
''I'm not going to lie to you. I do look back and was like, `Man, I could have been the first person to go for 300.' Four yards!'' Peterson said. ''But at the end of the day I guess it wasn't meant to happen, because it didn't happen. I can say this: If I get close to 296 or 300 again, I'll be asking for it for this time.''
So can this feat ever be topped again, considering the recent evolution of the NFL into a pass-first league?
Of the 15 others who've posted single-game totals within 50 yards of Peterson's record, only four of them (Jerome Harrison in 2009, Jamaal Charles in 2010, DeMarco Murray in 2011 and Doug Martin in 2012) did so after he set the standard. Only Harrison, with 286 yards for Cleveland, actually came that close.
''It still can happen,'' Peterson said. ''Anything is possible. Just got to get on a roll, and it's got to be one of those days.''
AP Sports Writers Tim Booth in Renton, Wash., and Bernie Wilson in San Diego contributed to this report.
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